Yankeemetrics: Sweep in scorching Hot-lanta (Aug. 28-30)

(Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports)
(Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports)

Sir Didi The Great
The Yankees ended their offensive slump in style, routing the Braves 15-4 in Friday’s series opener in Atlanta. They scored five runs in the first inning — one more run than they had scored in 27 total innings against the Astros last week.

Didi Gregorius had a truly historic night, going 4 for 5 with a home run and six RBIs, becoming the first shortstop in franchise history with at least six RBIs and four hits in a single game. He also is the only Yankee ever to have that many hits and RBIs against a National League team — in interleague play or the postseason. And, at 25 years old, he is the youngest Yankee to record four hits and six RBIs in a game since a 25-year-old Yogi Berra on Aug. 22, 1950 against the Tigers.

Brian McCann had a homecoming to remember in his first game back at Turner Field since leaving the Braves after the 2013 season. He pretty much did it all for the Yankees, reaching base four times, scoring three runs and driving in four runs. McCann is the first Yankee catcher in team history to have the unusual box score line of at least three walks, three runs scored and four RBIs. The last Yankee (at any position) to reach those totals in a game was Roy White in 1972.

Three is enough
Luis Severino’s fifth start was perhaps the best of his young major-league career, as he threw six scoreless innings with just four hits allowed in the Yankees 3-1 win on Saturday night. The Braves couldn’t touch his slider … the pitch got five whiffs and nine outs for Severino, without yielding a hit.

Severino lowered his ERA to 2.17, the second-lowest by any Yankee pitcher in his first five career games (all starts) in the last 50 years. The lowest belongs to El Duque Hernandez, who had a 2.04 ERA in his first five career starts in 1998.

Brian McCann’s eighth inning double gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead and it was his 15th two-bagger of the season. He’s now the seventh catcher in major-league history with at least seven seasons of 15-or-more doubles and 20-or-more homers. The others? Mike Piazza, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Jorge Posada, Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter.

Braves move to the AL East, please?
The Yankee bats were once again scorching-hot in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon, as they erupted for 20 runs and 21 hits in yet another blowout win against the Braves. Here we go …

With the sweep, the Yankees are now 12-2 at Turner Field in the regular season, their best record at any ballpark — and the best record by any major-league team at any current ballpark (min. 10 games).

The 20 runs matches the most the team has ever scored against any National League team, interleague and postseason included. The only other time it happened was when they beat the Rockies 20-10 on June 19, 2002.

This is also the second time they’ve scored at least 20 runs this season (also a 21-5 win at Texas), making this the first time since 1939 that they’ve scored 20-plus runs twice on the road in a single season. That 1939 team — which had a major-league record run differential of plus-411 — did it three times.

It was less than a week ago that these same Bronx Bombers were on the losing end of a 15-1 disaster against the Astros. So that’s a 14-run loss and a 14-run win in the span of six days! Yup, this is the first time in franchise history that the Yankees won a game by at least 14 runs and lost a game by at least 14 runs in the same week.

Nathan Eovaldi had his worst start since his June 16 disaster against the Marlins, allowing five runs in five innings as his ERA rose to 4.17. But he still got the win, and is now 14-2 on the season, good for a .875 win percentage. Looking ahead … the highest win percentage in a season by any Yankee pitcher that qualified for the ERA title with an ERA above 4.00 is .778 by Bump Hadley, who went 14-4 in 1936 while splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. #KillTheWin

The biggest offensive star of the game was — not joking — Stephen Drew, who was 4 for 4 with two walks and four RBIs. He is just the third Yankee infielder (not including catchers) in franchise history to reach base at least six times, not make an out and drive in at least four runs in a game. The others were second baseman Tony Lazzeri on May 22, 1930 and first baseman Wally Pipp on August 6, 1922.

Fan Confidence Poll: August 31st, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-2 (42 RS, 32 RA)
Season Record: 72-57 (627 RS, 550 RA, 73-56 pythag. record) 1.5 GB in ALE, 5.5 games up on WC spot
Opponents This Week: @ Red Sox (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, vs. Rays (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

DotF: Ackley plays second base in fourth rehab game

Triple-A Scranton (2-0 win over Buffalo)

  • CF-LF Slade Heathcott: 0-4, 1 K
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI — three two-hit games and four no-hit games in his last seven games
  • 2B Dustin Ackley: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 HBP — left the game in the eighth after being hit by a pitch, though I’m unsure if he got hurt or if that was simply the plan for the day (he hasn’t played a full nine innings yet as part of his rehab) … interesting he played second base
  • LF-2B Jose Pirela: 1-4
  • RF-CF Aaron Judge: 0-4, 1 K — in an ugly 1-for-25 (.040) slump
  • C Austin Romine: 0-4, 1 K
  • RHP Chris Capuano: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 5/2 GB/FB — 36 of 62 pitches were strikes (58%) … unless there’s a sudden need at the MLB level, I bet he stays here through the Triple-A postseason, then the team will figure out what happens after that
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 3.1 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 6/0 GB/FB — 27 of 36 pitches were strikes (75%) … finishing his first season in the organization very well
  • RHP Nick Goody: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 23 of 30 pitches were strikes (77%)

[Read more…]

Sunday Night Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the rest of the weekend. The Cubs and Dodgers are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Arrieta vs. Wood), so that should be pretty fun. Jake Arrieta has been ridiculous this season (2.22 ERA and 2.57 FIP). He’s no longer the guy the Yankees used to pound on all those years with the Orioles. Talk about that game, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here.

Sweep! Yankees clobber Braves 20-6 for third straight win

Do the Yankees have to leave Atlanta? They finished the three-game sweep of the Braves with a 20-6 win Sunday afternoon. They outscored the Braves 38-11 in the three games. The Yankees scored 38 runs during their recent ten-game homestand.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Seven Runs, Two Outs
The Yankees scored their first nine runs of Friday night’s blowout with two outs — in two separate innings, but all with two outs — and they scored their first seven runs of Sunday afternoon’s game with two outs. Jacoby Ellsbury started the scoring with a three-run home run in the second inning on a hanging Julio Teheran slider. It was … not a good pitch. That was a common theme. The Yankees stranded two runners in the first and were on the verge of doing it again in the second before Ellsbury’s dinger.

In the third inning, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann flew out for the first two outs before Greg Bird drew a two-out walk. Chase Headley followed with his tenth homer of the season, a bomb to dead center field. Again, it was a really bad pitch. Teheran laid it in there, right over the plate. Didi Gregorius followed the homer with a walk and Stephen Drew then went deep, hitting a two-run shot to right. Again, terrible pitch. Middle-middle meatballs all afternoon from Teheran.

Teheran has always been home run prone, but he’s taken it to the extreme this year, allowing 21 homers in 157.1 innings coming into this game (1.20 HR/9). That’s playing in a big park in the NL. Teheran was one out away from escaping the second and third inning scoreless, but instead he left some very hittable pitches over the plate, and the Yankees took advantage for an early seven-run lead.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Not So Nasty Nate
Nathan Eovaldi picked a pretty good day to not have command of his … well … everything. He couldn’t locate his fastball and his splitter hung more often than not, resulting in five runs in five innings. A better offensive team than the Braves might have made this a much uglier start for Eovaldi, who allowed those five runs on eight hits and two walks. He did strike out seven.

Much like New York’s early rallies, Atlanta’s two-run rally in the third inning all happened with two outs. Eovaldi got two outs, then walked Nick Markakis and Nick Swisher, and Freddie Freeman and A.J. Pierzynski drove them in with singles. The walks were the big problem there. Can’t be walking dudes with the bases empty and two outs and the middle of the order looming. Especially not with a 7-0 lead. Not good, Nate. He knows that.

The sixth inning rally was kind of dumb but it still counts. The inning started with an Adonis Garcia ground ball single back up the middle. Okay. Then Jace Peterson hit a booming double to left-center to put runners at second and third with no outs. Argh. The Yankees led 8-2 at the time, but still. Andrelton Simmons then ripped a single back up the middle, scoring both runners and ending Eovaldi’s day.

Adam Warren replaced Eovaldi and allowed Simmons to score on two dinky bloop hits. Brett Gardner almost caught one of them in left. Eovaldi allowed all three men he faced in the sixth to reach base and Warren allowed two of the four he faced to reach. Chasen Shreve came in, walked Freeman to load the bases, then got Pierzynski to ground out end the inning. Three runs scored on five hits. Not a good inning or afternoon for Eovaldi. Shake it off, do better next time out.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Insurance Runs
Thankfully, the Braves are not very good. They gave those three sixth inning runs back and then some in the seventh. Headley walked, Gregorius was hit by a pitch, and Drew singled to load the bases with one out. Alex Rodriguez drove in two with a pinch-hit single, Gardner singled in another run, McCann singled in two more runs, Bird doubled in yet another run, Headley doubled in two more runs, then Drew capped it off with another run-scoring single. Gosh. Nine runs on eight hits, two walks, and a hit batsman. That was an enjoyable inning. The lead was extended to 17-5.

Then, in the eighth, the Yankees scored three more times. The highlight of the inning was Branden Pinder‘s run-scoring double. It was his first pro at-bat, and, as far as I can tell, he never batted in college either. Pinder was the first Yankees reliever to drive in a run since … Mariano Rivera‘s bases loaded walk against Francisco Rodriguez back in the day. Good times. Bird (sac fly) and Gregorius (single) also plated runs in the three-run frame. Twenty total runs on a season-high 21 hits.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Drew went 4-for-4 the afternoon and is now hitting .20115 on the season. It was his first four-hit game since June 2013 and the first time this season he’s finished a game hitting over .200. He reached base six times — he also drew two walks — for the first time in his career. Drew had reached base five times in one game on four previous occasions, last in 2011. Heck of a day at the plate.

Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit and one run scored aside from the pitcher’s spot. Seven of the eight position player spots drove in a run. Headley (three hits, two walks) and Gregorius (two hits, two walks, hit-by-pitch) each reached base five times. Including Pinder, who hit in Headley’s spot, the 6-7-8 hitters went 10-for-11 with two doubles, two home runs, six walks, a hit-by-pitch, and one strikeout. That’s 17 times on base in 18 plate appearances. Wowza.

Pinder soaked up two inefficient innings in the blowout, allowing a run on an Adonis solo homer. He also walked three batters. Pinder threw 45 pitches in his two innings. Bryan Mitchell tossed a scoreless ninth. He made a nice play to snag a hard-hit comeback ground ball that was heading over his shoulder and into center. That was a little unsettling after Mitchell took the line drive to the face two weeks ago.

And finally, the Yankees have scored 20+ runs twice this season — they did it in Texas a few weeks ago, as I’m sure you remember — after doing it two times total from 2008-14. The last time they scored 20+ runs twice in one season was 1999. That was a good year.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
You can find the box score and video highlights for the game here and here, respectively. Here are the updated standings and postseason odds as well. Now here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Sadly, the Yankees are done with the Braves and now head to Boston for a three-game series with Red Sox. Ivan Nova and Eduardo Rodriguez will be the pitching matchup in Monday night’s opener.

Game 129: Finish the Sweep

There's a lot going on in this photo. (Presswire)

The Yankees have played well for long stretches at times this season, and today they’ll try to earn their eighth sweep of at least three games in 2015. That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Eight sweeps? The 2013-14 Yankees had 13 sweeps total, and the 2009 Yankees had eleven sweeps, so I guess eight isn’t a ton. Kind of a normal amount.

Nathan Eovaldi, who is at least in the conversation for staff ace right now, will be on the mound this afternoon looking to clinch that sweep. The Yankees have taken care of business against the Braves these last two days, but the series isn’t over yet, there’s still one more win sitting out there. Here is Atlanta’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Greg Bird
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It has been raining for much of the morning in Atlanta, but the forecast says the showers are supposed to clear out by game time. Then they’ll come back later this afternoon, hopefully after the game ends. We’ll see. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin at 1:35pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (knee) received a cortisone shot Thursday and played catch both Thursday and Saturday. There is no firm timetable for Sabathia to throw off a mound. Just catch for now … nothing new to pass along about Mark Teixeira (leg). He’s on antibiotics to get rid of the inflammation and won’t do anything until it clears out.

Didi’s Improvement

(Ezra Shaw/Getty)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty)

If not for Alex Rodriguez‘s (mostly triumphant) return to pinstripes, the biggest narrative surrounding the Yankees this season would likely be Didi Gregorius and his attempt at replacing the beloved and legendary Derek Jeter. To say that talk of this has fully died down would be disingenuous as we hear it fairly frequently, mostly when the Yankees play on national broadcasts. Thankfully, Didi has worked hard at and succeeded in making those conversations positive, even if that wasn’t the case at first.

In the early going of this year, things were not looking great for Sir Didi. He was scuffling at the plate, hitting to just a .499 OPS during his first month as a Yankee. On top of that, he was flubbing plays in the field and making some poor decisions on the basepaths. He was pressing–and who could blame him? Going from the relative obscurity of playing for the Diamondbacks to the relative ubiquity of playing for the Yankees while replacing Derek Frickin’ Jeter would make any player, regardless of skill-level, press. As the season’s gone on, though, Didi has adjusted and looked more and more comfortable in the Bronx and a second-half surge at the plate has helped make that possible (along with fewer baserunning blunders and mostly stellar fielding–seriously, this dude’s arm is off the charts!).

Since the All-Star Break, Didi has hit .304/.333/.415. That hot streak didn’t just start after the (not really) midpoint of the season. If we extend back to July 1 to now, Didi is hitting .294/.333/.400. That’s ever-so-slightly off from the post-ASB pace, but it’s still solid, especially for a shortstop who’s as good a fielder as Didi’s proven himself to be. Let’s take a look into some batted ball numbers and see what we can find as a possible source for Didi’s improvement.

As it so often does, Didi’s improvement may start with the old number one. Since July, Didi’s seen a big increase in line drives per balls in play on fastballs: 33.33% compared to just 17.50% in April through June. Unsurprisingly, this has led to an increase in BABIP–.268 instead of .228–which has led to a slight increase in BA against fastballs, .239-.222. Also at factoring in here is a big drop in pop up percentage. In the early part of the season, Didi popped up on exactly 10% of the fastballs he put into play; that number is now hovering closer to 2%.

The non-fastball pitch Didi has seen most often this season has been the sinker, and he’s been productive against it all along. In the first few months of the season, he hit well against the pitch with a .298 batting average. However, from July on, he’s done even better. Currently, he’s hitting .556 (!) against the sinker. What’s interesting is that Didi has seen almost as many sinkers since July (104) as he did in all of April through June (156).

Didi’s ‘formula’ seems pretty simple: sting the ball a little bit harder and get some more hits because of it. I’m no scout–and it’s difficult and dangerous to draw such conclusions from data alone–but the harder contact, the more frequent line drives, and the less frequent pop ups (the trend from fastballs mirrored itself in sinkers, with a drop off in PU/BIP% of about 4%) seem to suggest that Didi’s leveled out his swing, which has led to an uptick in production. No matter what it is, the last two months have Didi have been great to watch (even if he’s been allergic to taking a walk) and let’s hope he settles in to his role even more.